It feels like whenever I tried to find out more information on this game before it released, all I would see is unorganized, generic, not helpful at all descriptions of whatever I was trying to find that would all just lead me back to the same dull description of "This is a return to form Mario Party game" So I've taken it upon myself to actually shed some light on this game that won't require watching over an hour of gameplay footage.
I am not going to simply say that this is a revival of the classic style Mario Party gameplay, because it isnt, it is an evolution. If anything I would call this a proper reboot to the entire series. The standard formula has been tweeked and some extra mechanics have been added from some of the spinoff titles to make this one of the most divisive and strategic versions of Mario Party that you can play. You can keep things simple, only roll standard dice blocks, rack up coins from minigames, and get the most stars just like any other game. But now you have the option of rolling special dice blocks that depend on which character youre playing as. Some are pretty balanced like Mario's 1-3-3-3-5-6 block and just make for a nice alternate choice. Others can offer huge risk vs. reward factors like Bowser's 0-0-1-8-9-10 block that also takes 3 coins if you roll a 0. one of my favorite's is Shy Guys's 0-4-4-4-4-4 block. you roll a 4, or roll a 4 next turn. if you need 4, this is basically a guarantee and its not even a bad number to roll. It adds a bit more depth to the game aside from the items, which feel a bit lackluster. Some add a few spaces to your dice roll, some steal small amounts of coins, one item lets you choose the number you roll which is a bit OP, and then the Star Pipe from the DS game is back. thats really it.
Allies are a mechanics that was adapted from Star Rush that can either make or break your game. If you land on an ally space, an unused character gets randomly selected to start following you around the board. You then have access to that character's special dice block, and they add an extra +1 or +2 to your dice roll. you can hold up to 4 allies per game, and if you are able to get 4 you feel like this ungodly beast that is immune to anything the game has to throw at you. your smallest roll becomes 5 and you can roll up to a 14, which can take you almost halfway across the board in a lot of cases. Allies also have a presence in several minigames that give you an advantage over players with fewer or no allies. these guys took a bit of getting use to but I rather enjoy having them in the game.
the boards were a bit lacking for me. you get 3 to start with, plus a single unlockable board bringing the grand total up to 4. none of the boards are very big, and have been made artificially the same size due to regular dice blocks now going up to 6 instead of 10 (unless of course you abuse the power of Allies). but each board is still brimming with personality, and has pleasant background music to go with it. i wasnt particularly fond of any of the layouts, but if i had to pick a favorite i would have to say the Powder keg Mine.
its no lie at all that this iteration of Mario Party has some fantastic mini games. I would even argue that this is one of the better collections Nintendo has drawn up. I dont think theres a single minigame that solely relies on luck, the 1v3 matches feel fun to play no matter what side youre on, but at the same time Battle minigames are gone completely and coins are now distributed to everyone instead of the winner, which by the end of a game can make it feel like theres just too many coins in circulation, especially since stars now only cost 10 coins and most items cost 5 or 6. a nice addition is the simplification of the overview screen. you can not practice playing the minigame on the same screen where you read the rules, and every human player must agree to start before the actual minigame begins to keep things fair. the only downside is how dumbed down a lot of the descriptions are. i legitimately had no idea what the end goal of at least a few of these mini games were, and took me a few tries to figure it out.
i legitimately do not know a single person who has ever gotten excited over extra modes in a Mario Party game, and to be honest, I dont think these people exist. its nice that they tried to make these modes more interesting, but lets not kid ourselves. i dont think a single person would complain if these modes were cut entirely and the work needed to make them was instead focused into making an even better main Party Mode. Toad's Rec Room is a gimmick i will likely never get the opportunity to try out. River Survival gets bland after a few minutes and its exclusive minigames could have easily been modified into 4-player minigames. the rhythm mode seems cool, but again, why not just make them into more 4-player minigames? none of these modes are really that great, dont kid yourself.
this game is not the best Mario Party game ever, but its definitely a step in the right direction. I would have liked to play with a full controller instead of a single joycon, and their reasoning for why you cant is stupid. there are a lot of unnecessary animations in the game that just seem to slow it down, and if it were up to me, it would have cut them from the game entirely. and my biggest complaint is the game duration. the maximum amount of turns you can set the game to is 20, which is just not enough for me. i use to get people gathered around the TV for hours just to play a game lasting 50 turns and i would not hesitate to do that again, if the game would just let me... but it doesnt... and those 20 turns really dont feel like enough to fully flesh out the game. looking back to the allies mechanics, how likely do you think you will land on an ally space? if youre lucky, you can get 2 allies by the time youre 10 turns in, and if youre very lucky, you could get a full team by turn 15 or 16 and dominate the home stretch. but imagining a game where everyone has that many allies and then having the game go on for another 30 turns sounds amazing, and it hurts that its not a possibility.
i give it a 7.5/10